Kuwait eyes $1.5bn in aid funding ‘Purely humanitarian’

KUWAIT CITY, Jan 29: The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah held a press conference announcing the International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria, taking place on Wednesday.

This has come “In light of the call made by the United Nations last December regarding the deteriorating humanitarian situation of the Syrian Refugees in neighboring countries, and in response to the suggestion of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon to hold a high-level International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria to assist in facing this humanitarian tragedy,” stated Sheikh Sabah.
“HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, decided that the State of Kuwait shall host the International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria tomorrow.

“The Goal of the conference is to mobilize $1.5 billion of financial resources to assist refugees and internally displaced Syrians for the next 6 months. High level delegations from 59 countries are scheduled to attend this pledging conference, including Presidents, Prime Ministers, Ministers and high-level officials.

“Also, 13 UN specialized agencies, 4 regional organizations, The International Commission for the Red Cross, International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent and 17 different NGOs will participate in this conference,” added Sheikh Sabah Khalid, before opening the floor to questions.
Regarding the political resolutions to the situation in Syria, particularly with regards to past meetings in Istanbul and France, as well as changes in the tone in the statements of world leaders, with President Obama recently speaking on the possibility of military intervention, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid stated that a political resolution to the situation in Syria is at the top of the agendas of the GCC, the Arab League, the UN and countless other world organizations, pointing to the UN Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who is currently conducting talks to resolve the situation.

However, the purpose of the International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria is purely to address the humanitarian issues of the Syrian peoples, in light of the deteriorating situation due to the ongoing conflict. The aid provided for the conference is designated to ensure that the minimum basic needs of the Syrian people affected by the conflict are met.

Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid specified that the $1.5 billion sum designated is to cover the 6 month period until June only, and given the ongoing nature of the conflict, aid is being designated on a periodical basis, according to need, noting the importance of politically resolving the conflict, but adding that aid would still be required for a long time following this.

With regard to ensuring that the aid reaches the displaced Syrians and those in need, particularly in light of the UN’s cooperation with the Syrian government for the purpose of distributing the aid, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid stated that the UN must cooperate with the government for distribution purposes, but that the guarantee that the aid reaches those in need is the various UN agencies and subsidiaries located throughout the affected areas, ensuring that the aid is distributed where it is required. However, he stressed that each pledging state designated where the aid goes themselves, and that the decision of whom the aid goes to is entirely theirs.

Concerning the Syrian National Coalition not being invited to join the conference, in addition to the absence of certain states that are seen to be supportive of the Syrian regime, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid stated that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon had designated all the invitations to the conference, and that all the states had been invited alike, adding that Kuwait, acting purely as a host, is happy to have any participating country willing to provide humanitarian aid to Syria, noting that the GCC was the first to recognize the Syrian National Coalition.

He emphasized that the purpose of the conference is purely humanitarian, and that all participating governments, irrespective of their political positions or affiliations, are in consensus over the importance of providing humanitarian aid for the people of Syria.

With regards to providing aid to the Syrian opposition, he stated that this is not the purpose of this conference, but that the issue is being discussed continuously, pointing to recent meetings in Marrakech by the Friends of Syria. He stated that providing arms and financial aid is being discussed in all international meetings, and that all the decisions being made by the UN and its organs are being executed, with all promises and obligations being kept, and confirming a continued follow-up of the situation.

On potential concern on the part of Kuwait as to the possibility that extremist groups may take control of Syria, he stated that everyone had heard Brahimi iterate fears that Syria is descending into the position of a failed state, with the current situation giving way to rampant arms and drug smuggling , and disorder. He noted that this is what was feared from the beginning of the struggle in Syria, and that all the steps necessary to prevent this from happening and to subdue any further chaos are being taken.
Concerning providing aid to Syrians refugees, he stated that the Arab League had held a meeting in Cairo on the level of the foreign ministers, and that a request was put forth by Lebanon and supported by Jordan to form operational teams to ensure that aid reaches Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq, and that AL Secretary-General Nabil Al-Araby had provided a report outlining this.

Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid stated that the pledges and donors would be announced in a press conference with Ban Ki Moon following the conference on Wednesday.

Following the press conference, the Minister of Information stated to the press, “I welcome the media to this International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria. There is no doubt that the selection of Kuwait to organize this conference is a major token of confidence in the humanitarian role and the continuous humanitarian initiatives Kuwait holds, to support the international community.

“Today this conference comes in very difficult humanitarian circumstances in that the fellow state of Syria is going through. This initiative from HH Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah in hosting this international conference, which came through the cooperation and requests of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, is clear evidence of Kuwait’s international, humanitarian and democratic position, and its attention to supporting all the efforts of international organizations and all humanitarian causes.”

With regards to the formation of press delegations to follow up on the arrival of the funds to the Syrian people, he continued stating, “Kuwait’s press is always on the forefront, and Kuwait is proud that civil organization and charities in Kuwait have collected over KD 180 million, which inspired great admiration from the UNSG. This is a quality of the Kuwaiti people, and its wise leadership, in standing with the world as a whole, no less when it is a fellow Arab state that is undergoing these difficult circumstances. There is no doubt that the Kuwaiti press will do its part in providing coverage and support for all the efforts of humanitarian organizations in this tragic situation.


By: Joana Saba Arab Times Staff

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